By Horus Alas
By the time you read this, I will perhaps be on an airplane, flying over the Gulf of Mexico. Or maybe I’ll have already made it to the environs of the Aeropuerto Internacional Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero—but that’s a story for another time. In any case, I won’t be in the D.C. area this Friday, Jan. 20, for the inauguration of our nation’s 45th president.
It’s not as though one really needs to struggle to find a reason not to go. The incoming president will take office with a historically low approval rating of 40 percent, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll. Both of his two immediate predecessors had approval ratings of at least 60 percent prior to taking office.
The laundry list of craven and reprehensible deeds our president-elect, Donald Trump, has done during the campaign season should hardly need to be articulated by this point. All of those in the media—my colleagues and I at this publication included—have written ad nauseam about the plethora of reasons why this man should never have reached the presidential nomination, and the clear and present danger he poses to our republic.
At this point, those who continue to pledge support for our soon-to-be president most likely do so in spite of all his egregious wrongdoing. It wasn’t enough for this man to have boasted about sexual assault, scammed thousands of people through Trump University, or stiffed untold numbers of contractors and service professionals who have worked on his projects, to name just a few of his scandals.
No; the Trump train is intransigent. They continue to believe, in spite of all rationale and verified evidence, that their champion will make America great again, as he has vehemently claimed he will do.
Trump’s vision for our country includes an enormous border wall with Mexico that will be paid for with U.S. taxpayer dollars, a Muslim registry not unlike what the Nazis had for Jews and the swift repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which will leave millions of Americans without health insurance. These are among the things, we are told, that will make America great again.
Since the grim reality of election day set in, I’ve seen people everywhere brace themselves for the impending struggles of a Trump administration.
Adams Morgan, where I’ve been stationed for work since December, is teeming with protest organizers, “AdMo thanks Obama” signs, and “Fuck Trump” graffiti. A coworker of mine who lacks documented status confided to me that he opened a covert bank account out of fear that the new administration would confiscate his funds via executive order. Our Twitter timelines and Facebook feeds are likewise infested with a pervasive feeling of malaise about the incoming president.
If it feels like our democracy is hurdling toward fascism, perhaps that’s because it is. The foremost tragedy of this election is that we have chosen this fate for ourselves, and that so many of us still fail to acknowledge how much peril this presents for our nation and our world.
Still, as we recognize the potential abuses of power from this new administration, we realize how paramount it is for us to band together and combat the encroachments of despotism tooth and nail. Fascism cannot triumph in our country while we remember that, as the French taught us, “men are born and remain free and equal in rights.” If we take any cues from the republican Spaniards who resisted Franco in Madrid, “No pasarán.”
At noon today, the eight years of the Obama presidency came to a close. The most powerful office in our country will be occupied by Donald Trump. With difficulty, we accept the operation of our republic’s constitution as designed by its architects. But let us be vigilant about it.
As citizens, we have a responsibility to ourselves and to each other to check the power of our elected officials. A society does well when all of its constituent members do well. As such, we should react to the trampling of our friends’ and neighbors’ rights with the same intensity as we would with our own.
When I return to Washington on Tuesday night, the city’s climate will have changed. A new president will occupy the Oval Office, and we will watch his actions with diligence. The next four years will test us and our republic as they’ve never been tested before. We will emerge all the stronger because of it.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr account.
Horus Alas is a senior philosophy major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.